Abandoned Groups, or groups whose owner has gone inactive, have been an issue within the Groups community for some time. While it may seem as though this is a simple issue to address, it’s actually fairly complicated. There are several factors involved that make it difficult for us to re-assign ownership responsibilities without the original owner’s consent.
In order address this on-going issue, we are going to create a new Guideline regarding owner responsibilities to lay the groundwork for transferring the ownership of a group where the group owner is not fulfilling his/her responsibilities. For example, this Guideline might inform group owners that they are responsible for monitoring group activity to make sure the group remains true to its purpose and that pending messages and members are processed in a timely fashion.
Our general philosophy at Yahoo! Groups is that group owners are free to run their groups in any way they want, as long as their actions do not violate the Yahoo! Terms of Service . However, we never intended this to mean that a group owner could essentially abandon a group, without first making sure that someone was in place to take over. And we have heard from many users on the Groups Suggestion board who have urged us to help them when a group owner stops being an engaged owner. When members have invested significant amounts of time and effort into a group, we understand they feel it isn’t fair for their group to be ruined because the owner disappears. We agree.
At the same time, we need to make sure any system for transferring ownership of a group is not abused by those who might try to “steal” a group and does not punish group owners who are simply taking a short vacation (as opposed to those who are truly absentee).
So while we’re still working out the details and the timelines, we are considering implementing a process along the lines of the following:
- Group owners who do not take any action in their group for an extended period of time may receive a notification that they are risk of having another member promoted to co-owner status.
- The owner will then have some period of time to respond to this notification. If the owner responds, then nothing will change in their group.
- But if the group owner fails to respond within a specified time frame, then another group member will be promoted to co-owner status. If the group has moderators, the new owner(s) likely will come from that list. If there are no moderators, then the new owner will be automatically selected from the Group membership based on some combination of seniority and participation. Alternatively, we are also considering giving group owners the ability to name someone as their predecessor should their activity/moderation be inactive for the specified time frame (similar to a living trust).
As we work to define the best terms for this Guideline, we’d like to hear your thoughts on the process we’ve proposed above.
- What should the specified time frame be that a group owner is absent before someone else within the group be promoted?
- Should Yahoo! promote a moderator that exists within the group or should the current owner have to name someone who will take over in the event they go inactive when they start the group?
- What other criteria should we use for deciding who becomes the group owner in a situation where there is no active moderator or “trustee”?
- What should happen if the original group owner does reappear, months, or even years later?
- What other concerns or suggestions do you have that we haven’t addressed here? Please share with us by commenting below.
Thanks for your help to shape this important new Guideline!
Yahoo! Groups Team